I enjoy the holidays, I do.  I like the smell of pine, the cookies, seeing all the pretty decorations, the parties, and having the chance to wear red and green together without having to explain that it’s laundry day.  I do look forward the festivities, but the work that goes into it all just doesn’t seem to be within my skill set or time frame.  Until a few years ago, I was able to skate by, doing almost nothing for the holidays.  We were a childless couple living in a small apartment then, and we weren’t hosting anyone or under any pressure to produce a Pinteret-perfect holiday mantle display.  I don’t know if it’s that I am older now or if it’s the baby or the house or my Facebook newsfeed rapidly updating with beautifully lit trees and rosy-cheeked little ones.  But oh, The Pressure.

I think that this weight I feel is also partly from the fact that my own mom put on such a fantastic Christmas every year when I was a kid.  The vast batches of cookies all laid out on parchment.  The boxes and boxes of ornaments and the smell of our real tree.  Pulling our nativity set out of the box year after year and helping my mom make the angel that we placed at the top of the tree.  Going off to sing in the church choir for midnight mass after our special Christmas Eve dinner.  It makes me wonder and worry – what is wrong with me that I’m not the superwoman that my mom was during the holiday season?  Will I still be able to give my daughter the special holiday memories that my mom gave me?

Christmas 1984.  Pretty sure my mom MADE like half of the ornaments on the tree, the stockings, AND the bathrobe I'm wearing.

Christmas 1983. Pretty sure my mom MADE like half of the ornaments on the tree, the stockings, AND the pajamas I’m wearing.

Here’s where I stand this year:

-I bought all my gifts online, all either gift cards or from Amazon wishlists.  Yup, I used about 3 brain cells on gifts for my loved ones.  Slow clap.

-Not true, actually – my daughter’s presents came from a toy swap (to which I brought no toys – was it, then, a toy steal??).  She’s almost 14 months – not old enough to even “get” Christmas or to want anything other than the water bottle/fork/pencil/sandwich I happen to be holding.

-My tree is small, fake, and prelit.  About 80% of the ornaments are plastic balls that my mom bought us last year for another fake tree.  That’s right, this year’s is an upgrade.  Oh, the the other “special” ornaments were also bought for us by my mom.

-My mantle IS decorated.  I’ve got a single garland string and some Christmas-y stuffed animals hiding my TV cables, beer steins with candy canes in them (looking more sparse every day – yum), and stockings hung by the chimney with care thumbtacks.

-I am not doing a Christmas card this year.  It’s ok, I’m ready – take me off to Mom Federal Prison.

I am not my mom.  This is clear.  But I am also still a good mom.  I work hard, and I love hard – but I’m super busy.  Most nights, just getting dinner together at night feels like a struggle.  Is it just that I didn’t perceive the struggle in my own mom because I was a child?  Was it that she was home with us or working part time until we were all in school?  Is it that there are different demands on moms today?  Or am I just lazy?  What is the difference??

Three happy teenagers, dad's about to put the (handmade) angel on the tree - is this a Normal Rockwell painting or what??

Christmas ’99?  Three happy siblings, dad’s about to put the (handmade) angel on the tree – is this a Norman Rockwell painting or what??

I DON’T KNOW, OK?!?  I can’t even get my laundry put away, so forget having the time to think deeply about this stuff.  I.  Don’t.  Know.  What I do know is that I am officially absolving myself of guilt about the holidays.  I will always cherish my childhood memories, but I simply can’t match them.  Not today, and maybe not ever.  For now, I will continue to skate by, continue to love my kid, and continue to eat candy canes off my mantle.  Those things are addictive.

Cute family photos like this are also pretty addictive.  Christmas '85?

Cute family photos like this are also pretty addictive. Christmas ’85.

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